Floating Treatment Wetlands FAQ's

Q: What kinds of problems can floating wetlands solve?

A: Floating treatment wetlands can be used to address a wide variety of water related issues, including:

  • Treatment of harmful algae blooms (blue green algae/cyanobacteria);
  • Reduction of nutrients such as Phosphorus and Nitrogen
  • Reduction of heavy metals
  • Reduction of suspended sediments
  • Fish/Aquatic habitat enhancement

Q: What are PhytoLinks floating wetlands made of?

A: The PhytoLinks modules are made from a combination of light-weight durable plastics and natural textiles. These materials were purposely selected to create a product that will endure rigorous challenges such as repeated freeze thaw cycles and moving water.

Q: What plants are suitable for floating wetlands?

A: We recommend native emergent wetland plants such as species found along the perimeter of a natural lake or a marsh. Grasses, sedges and rushes are great options for floating treatment wetlands. However, depending on water quality, almost any terrestrial species can be grown on a floating wetland. Terrapin Water staff will work together with our clients to source native plants from the closest possible location to the project site. This ensures the use of plants that are well suited to the local habitat and growing conditions.

Q: Do you start your islands from plugs or seeds?

A: The PhytoLinks FTW system is designed to accept both types of planting strategies. In general, seed is less expensive and allows us to start with greater biodiversity, but plugs mature faster. The decision to go with plugs, seeds or a mixture of both is made by our experienced staff on a case by case basis.

Q: How are the floating wetlands anchored?

A: There are a number of different anchoring strategies for islands depending on the location they are being anchored. We have worked with multiple systems, ranging from simple deadman anchoring systems to more complex machine installed ground screws. The key to designing an effective anchoring system is to get a good handle on the maximum water level fluctuations acting on the wetland. Anchoring strategies are formulated on a case by case basis by our experienced design team.

Q: What happens to the floating wetlands in the winter?

A: Essentially, it hibernates. Wetland plants are adapted to shut down for the colder winter months and can even freeze into the ice and still come back to life the following spring when the weather warms up. In small lakes, reservoirs and ponds the islands do not need to be moved for the winter months.

Q: What kinds of maintenance activities are involved with floating wetlands?

A: PhytoLinks FTW system is designed to be very low maintenance. We recommend to all of our clients that the wetlands and anchoring system are visually inspected system at least twice per year to confirm that module-to-module and anchor line connections are functioning properly. It’s also a good idea to do a visual inspection of any PhytoLinks installation in a stormwater management pond after a severe storm event. Once the plants are established, there should be little if any maintenance activities associated with the plants. In locations with abundant geese, the integrity of the bird fencing should be confirmed once in the spring and once in the fall and after any major storm events.

Q: Can plants be harvested from the tops of your floating wetlands?

A: Yes, we are currently developing a large-scale aquatic harvester designed to collect to top portion of the plants, leaving the roots and crown in place. Think of it like mowing the lawn. Wetlands could be trimmed 1-2 times per growing season and the biomass collected and removed as a sustainable method of removing nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon from the system.

Q: How much do floating wetlands cost?

A: Cost is based on the number of modules required and the location of the work. Please contact us directly with the details of your project and we will happily provide you with a detailed quote.

Q: How do PhytoLinks compare to other floating wetland products on the market?

A: PhytoLinks were designed to address the issues of high-cost and low-performance that affected existing floating wetlands. They use as little material as possible without sacrificing overall system strength and integrity. This makes PhytoLinks one of the most cost-effective options available. The system has successfully survived a 1 in 100 year storm event in Toronto Ontario, a true test of its durability. Also, PhytoLinks are designed with components such as ropes and floats that are easily removed, meaning components can be replaced without replacing the entire system. Lastly, and most importantly, we are the only FTW system on the market that can deliver fully mature vegetated modules to your project location. This takes the guesswork out of getting plants to grow in challenging low nutrient environments such as stormwater ponds.

Q: Do you have any research on the effectiveness of floating wetlands?

A: Yes, intensive research on floating treatment wetlands has been underway for the past two decades, in varied locations including North America, China, New Zealand, and India. Studies have investigated the application of floating wetlands in stormwater, municipal wastewater, agricultural wastewater, industrial wastewater, and lake remediation. Please contact us directly and we will be happy to provide you with research data for projects that we have been involved with as well as a bibliography of other peer reviewed scientific articles on floating treatment wetlands.